Arcadia, My Arcadia tells the inspirational story of real people and their life. In this story lies the heart and soul of Arcadia. It is a personal memory of life, mostly fond but at times merciless. It is a portrait of life in Arcadia, and perhaps in all of the Greek countryside, during the stone years of the 1940s and the hopeful decade that followed, when villagers began to emigrate once again in hopes of a better life elsewhere.
An authentic work of literature, based on experience and observation and not one written from notes taken during a months visit to the country, Arcadia, My Arcadia has as its prime villains class struggle and poverty.
Many of you, my readers, are asking me whether Arcadia, My Arcadia is my personal story, how long it took me to write it and what compelled me to write it in the first place.
The writing of my novel in its present form took a little more than seven years but there is a story behind the story.
When I arrived on the American shores in the summer of 1962, I had brought with me twenty years of tightly-packed vivid memories. While working as a busboy, I decided to record most of these remembrances as My Story, using a borrowed old Greek typewriter and only two inept fingers. I wrote this (just shy of 120 pages) with the only intention that it might some day serve as a convenient anamnesis. For, in a very real sense, the writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself.
Every time I visited my homeland as a grown man over the years, I witnessed with dismay the desolation of the land and heard a sad song coming like a heart-wrenching dirge from the clay-mouthed Arcadian hills, as if the poor and mountainous land was falling into decay. The land where Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, was once worshipped, had been left essentially uncultivated, and the shepherds who used to dot the hillsides with their flocks of goats and sheep were scarcely seen anywhere. Water wells had been abandoned, and donkeys, mules and horses, which once traversed the countryside, now seemed extinct. The green patches of land, where every farmer produced his own vegetables and raised his own animals, were a thing of the past.
Standing stunned amidst the matamorphosed landscape a few years ago, like Nicolas Poussin's bewildered shepherds before a tomb, I meditated in sorrow upon the irreversible effects of cultural change and industrialization. "Indeed," I pondered, "Et in Arcadia ego." Instantly, I knew that I had to write a story as a literary document of the bygone era. Upon returning to my American home, I took out My Story, buried in a deep drawer of a basement cabinet and nearly forgotten, and read it. I was astonished at its originality and was moved deeply seeing that, truly, "The boy is father to the man." I knew I did not write in that style or diction any more but in those precious pages, yellowed by time, I thought lay the leaven that would make the dough of my new story rise. Their content, especially the feelings recorded in them, was what I needed to kneed the story I had been carrying in my mind for many years following the completion of my doctoral studies.
By Nicholas D. Kokonis. 467 pages. Soft cover.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicholas D. Kokonis was born and raised in Arcadia and knows his main character's life down to the missing hobnails on his only pair of shoes. A practicing psychologist and college professor, Dr. Kokonis divides his time be-tween his native Arcadia and the US.
Dr. Nicholas Kokonis completed his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Illinois Institute of Technology in 1971 after earning his B.A. and M.A. at Roosevelt University. His research findings have been published many times in nationally recognized professional journals. His practice is based in Illinois, where he also consults for the Department of Human Services, and delivers professional presentations.
In addition to his clinical expertise, he is a teacher and professor, having earned his Teacher's Diploma at the Pedagogical Academy in Tripoli, Greece. Dr. Kokonis continued teaching in the U.S. while actively maintaining a private practice. His teaching career has been profiled in collegiate journals and he has received prestigious faculty appointments to colleges and universities. He presently teaches at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois.
Dr. Kokonis is the recipient of many awards and honors, among them Who's Who, Outstanding Citizen of the Year, Notable Americans, a citation in the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, a profile in the Chicago Sun Times, American Hellenic Who's Who, and a reference in the Encyclopedia of Modern Greek Literature (Poetry).
Foreign languages and writing are interests of Dr. Kokonis. Not only is the author of the outstanding historical novel, Arcadia, My Arcadia, but he is a published poet and also a columnist for Greek Press. For more information about his novel, HCS readers are invited to read a review of his book and view related materials posted by Hellenic Communication Service: "Arcadia, My Arcadia a Must-Read by Mary Papoutsy".